It’s no secret that Sydney-siders love gelato, and we have a flurry of crazy delicious storefronts to choose from – Messina, N2 Extreme anyone? On the other side of the spectrum is RivaReno, who focuses on the old gold flavours of authentic Italy, and does them well. RivaReno began with two Italian gelato-makers in the city of Bologna, where they dreamed to produce a gelato with uncompromising quality. 10 years later, Italian Golosaria Festival’s Best Ice Cream in Italy 2008 has been brought down under by Kieran Tosolini. We dropped in to get up close and personal with some real gelato, and say a big thank you to Kieran!
The inspiration to bring RivaReno down to Australia
Kieran told us how we used to work in finance, and found that a desk job just wasn’t doing it for him. He reminisced on his younger days when he used to spend school holidays cooking pasta and gourmet Italian food with his Mum. One life-changing journey he found himself in Italy searching for the best gelato, and was impressed with RivaReno. Three times. He thought to himself, if they could keep such quality consistent between Florence, Bologna, and Rome, what’s to stop this quality from coming down to the land girt by sea? Nothing, that’s what. His love for gelato and good Italian food gave him the ultimate decision to bring RivaReno here and introduce it to Sydney-siders.
Upon entering RivaReno, one of the first things to stand out is that you can see no gelato – except for the ones people are already eating. Where are the familiar mountains of gelato colourfully displayed? They’re tucked away in sealed containers to maintain freshness and shield the precious gelato from environmental dangers like oxygenation and the sun, the concept of pozetti. Kieran stresses that this storage method is essential in keeping true to the true taste of Italy as the temperature can be kept stable at around -8C to -10C, as opposed to the common -18C that takes away the intensity of the gelato flavours.
The Benchmark of Gelato – not Pistachio?
It’s a common misconception that pistachio gelato is the benchmark flavour for gelato. I have to say, I had always thought that if the Pistachio gelato was good in a gelataria, all the other flavours must be good as well. Until the Fior di Panna came into the picture and I tasted the true mama of gelato. This is the ‘pure’ gelato with a touch of Madagascar’s aromatic Bourbon vanilla and completely exposes the raw simplicity of gelato. Many gelatarias don’t produce this flavour because it is so hard to do well!
Authenticity to Italia
The fact that more than 50% of RivaReno Sydney’s clientele are Italian speaks for itself. If those of the local culture love it, you can’t go wrong! Kieran illustrates the many ways they ensure quality like using real milk instead of milk powder – just one milky bite from any flavour (except for the sorbets of course) and you will be hit with the creamy milk taste. Not only that, they only use high altitude milk from the Scura Valley, where the cows are happy cows, free to roam and eat the green pastures in the valley. Because of this they what some people know as the best alpine milk since Ancient Roman times! Their pistachios are also home-grown in Bronte, Sicily by a family who harvests specifically for RivaReno. The origins of all their iconic ingredients are proudly displayed on their wall too:
Every ingredient used in RivaReno Italy, Kieran also has access to – after the hectic process of getting through the harsh Australian quarantine controls of course. Of course a representative from Italy also came down to inspect the quality of RivaReno Sydney when it first opened and, gladly, was very happy!
It only takes 20-25mins to make the gelato from scratch, so Kieran always produces very small batches on demand. The gelato machines also creates it in a way that allows less air in, giving us a gelato that has powerful flavour in every bite. This also means that the gelato is a lot denser than the norm, which is why you might notice that the serving cups are quite small. Trust me. Do not judge a gelato by its size.
Best-sellers + Personal Favourites
The current hit flavours are the Baccio (chocolate and hazelnut with whole toasted hazelnuts), New York (organic Canadian maple syrup and caramelised pecans), and the Caffe (Arabica coffee with chocolate slivers). Kieran loves the Nocciola Piemonte (pure hazelnut from Piedmont ‘Tonde Gentili Trilobate’) and Dark Chocolate Sorbet combination. After trying the entire, yes ENTIRE, flavour menu available, we each chose our final gelato to go home with.
Jen opted for the Contessa (Sicilian almonds and Piedmont hazelnuts with crushed amaretti and caramelised almonds) which where the amaretti gave it some oomph of personality which she loved. She also chose the Morena (Fior Di Panna with Amarena sour cherries) which was a combination of the Fior Di Panna flavour with a good bite from the cherries.
Grace decided to go old-school and chose the Fior Di Panna which is creamy, milky, and Bourbon vanilla-ry.
My absolute favourite of the day was the Pistacchio Bronte (intense pistachio from Bronte, Sicily). And boy was it INTENSE. One taste and we were simply lost for words of description except for ‘so pistachio-y’ because that’s exactly what it was. Simply pistachio gelato. It will now be the bar I have set in my mind for future pistachio gelato. I gobbled this up with the Nocciola Piemonte Hazulnut flavour for the whole nutty experience.
There’s also a changing Gelato of the Month to mix it up a little, which Kieran uses as a gauge for whether new flavours should be incorporated into the permanent menu.
The ultimate conclusion is that this is the foundation of gelato. Every flavour is simply that flavour, nothing fancy and nothing hidden, just pure gelato in its authentic Italian glory.
280 Crown St, Darlinghurst NSW
Phone: (02) 9356 2669
Opens: Mon-Wed 1pm-11pm, Thu-Sat 1pm-12am, Sun 1pm-11pm
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Riva Reno